Written by Pat Pryor, @pryorgraphics
We’re halfway through the NFL season, even though it seems like week 1 was yesterday. What seemed impossible just a few months ago has turned into reality, with the hard work and dedication of NFL and team employees. Thanks to these people, we’re granted with what is turning out to be a great season. Of course, as a team of super-fans, we have to share how we think it's going for the players and coaches, so here is the Blitzalytics Midseason Awards!
The awards are given by a simple majority, voted on by Blitz members. These awards are based on what would be awarded now, not a prediction of the end of the season.
Executive of the Year: Jason Licht, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 60% of the vote.
Jason Licht has been the General Manager of the Buccaneers since 2014. In that span, they had one winning season, and haven’t been to the playoffs since 2007. However, Jason Licht built a winning team quietly, and this year made just the big enough splashes to put them at the next level. He signed Tom Brady and traded for his dynamic duo partner Rob Gronkowski. He also drafted tackle Tristan Wirfs, and safety Antoine Winfield Jr, who have made great impacts in their first 8 weeks. Now many people’s favorite to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl, Jason Licht and the Buccaneers have built a great roster, to win right now, and they may just do that, making this EOY award well earned.
Coach of the Year: Mike Tomlin, Pittsburgh Steelers, 40% of the vote.
With one of the more competitive categories, as 5 coaches received votes, Mike Tomlin and his undefeated Steelers came out on top. Being only the third Steelers coach since 1969, Tomlin has always had big shoes to fill since his hiring in 2007. Of course, he filled those shoes excellently. He won Super Bowl XLIII a year after he was hired, and has never had a record below .500. After injuries to Big Ben, and two seasons with no playoff trip, questions were being raised about the future in Pittsburgh. However, Tomlin would take none of that. He and the Steelers have stormed to a 7-0 record. This season, he’s led an incredible defense, ranking top 5 in rushing, receiving, and points. With his 140th win, he also has the most wins in NFL history as a minority coach. Leading the league's only undefeated team left, Tomlin has proved that he can lead his team to be the best, especially in the league's hottest division, which is why he was chosen as our midseason COY.
Comeback Player of the Year: Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers, 60% of the vote
After leading the league in passing yards in 2018, Big Ben injured his elbow in week 2 of 2019 and was quickly ruled out for the year. After having surgery, he’s come into 2020 to prove he can still be a top-tier quarterback. He’s thrown for 1,628 yards, 15 touchdowns, and just 4 interceptions. He’s led his team to nearly a 10 point average point differential and has avoided any losses thus far. He’s also thrown for at least two touchdowns in 6 out of 7 games and has a quarterback rating above 98 for the same amount of games. With so many people predicting a retirement for the future Hall of Famer, he is proving them wrong every day, showing that no injury can slow him down, and he has no plans to lose right now. With great stats and domination of a hot division, Big Ben Roethlisberger earns the spot of midseason CBPOY.
Defensive Rookie of the Year: Jeremy Chinn, S, Carolina Panthers, 40% of the vote.
Jeremy Chinn was selected behind five safeties as he was taken with the final pick of the second round. And despite good play by several of them, no one has taken quite the role Chinn has. He’s amassed 67 combined tackles, 10th overall, and by far the most among rookies. He’s also nabbed one interception, five pass breakups, and two quarterback hits. Overall, he’s let up just 30 catches for 261 yards, while also playing on an insane 97% of defensive snaps for the Panthers, second behind just Tre Boston. He was the NFL’s Defensive Rookie of the Month in October, a well-deserved honor. Jeremy Chinn’s reliability to make big stops earns him the DROY award in our midseason honors.
Offensive Rookie of the Year: Joe Burrow, QB, Cincinnati Bengals, 60% of the vote.
Burrow came out of college with just about every accolade possible. CFP Champion, unanimous Heisman winner, and he was selected first overall by the Bengals. He was selected to change the culture, and he’s done that since day one. Despite suffering through O-line and receiver struggles, he’s currently 3rd in passing yards, and on pace to break Andrew Luck's rookie record by almost 200 yards. The Bengals are 2-5-1, but they play in a highly competitive division, where Joe Burrow has still kept them in the conversation of a legitimate team who puts up a fight every week, as he’s only lost by more than a single score once. The defending Heisman shows he will keep up his status on top of his class, earning the midseason OROY award.
Defensive Player of the Year: Aaron Donald, IDL, Los Angeles Rams, 50% of the vote.
Watching Aaron Donald is simply experiencing greatness. Since 2014, he’s been the most dominant defender in the league. The anchor of a top 10 defense, Aaron Donald is yet again putting up fantastic statistics and is on his way to even more accolades. He’s tied for the lead in sacks with Myles Garrett, our runner up, with 9.0. He has 22 pressures, 6 quarterback knockdowns on as many hurries, and has only missed one tackle through 8 games. Simply another year of superiority for the future Hall of Famer earns him the midseason DPOY award here.
Offensive Player of the Year: Alvin Kamara, RB, New Orleans Saints, 50% of the vote.
After signing a massive 75 million dollar extension the day before the season opener, Kamara has proved he’s worth the money. With Michael Thomas not playing since Week 1, Kamara has seen an uptick in production, and is already on pace to set his career-high in rushing yards, and leads the league in scrimmage yards with 987, above second-place Derrick Henry by over 100. He’s one of the most reliable pass-catchers in the league, reeling in 83.3% of his passes. That puts him at 19th in the league, and he has 66 targets; while nobody else in the top 25 has been targeted even 40 times. Not to mention, he’s also the third leading back in yards per touch. No offensive players have simply been able to keep up and play at such a high level consistently like Kamara. Week after week, he’s put himself above and beyond. He hasn’t dipped below 100 scrimmage yards since week 1. As the top offensive weapon on the 5-2 Saints, Kamara has rightly established him as the midseason OPOY.
Most Valuable Player, Russell Wilson, QB, Seattle Seahawks, 60% of the vote.
Of course, this year's fan-favorite is given the most prestigious individual award in football. With 26 touchdowns to just 6 interceptions, he’s by far the most productive player in the league. He’s been playing catch-up as well, as he has to fight alongside one of the most injured defenses in the league. In a heated NFC West, he’s fought for the lead and has only been taken down once. Despite shaky play from several positions on the team, Russell Wilson has delivered a great, and reliable influence on the team. Without him, they’d be in dire straits. But with him performing like he is, the Seahawks are on the best teams in the league, and so Russell Wilson earns the MVP in these Blitzalytics midseason NFL awards!